Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Getting the car ready for winter

I am living in a state of denial that I will soon be driving to work in a blizzard, but there's starting to be frost on the windshield in the morning so it is time for me to face facts: I need to get the car ready for winter.

Here's my to-do list:
Use Rainex on the windshields
Clean the windshield wipers with rubbing alcohol
Buy ice scraper
Buy snow shovel
Buy fuel de-icer
Buy antifreeze
Buy jumper cables (check the trunk to make sure we don't already have some)
Buy flashlight and/or flares
Buy kitty litter
Fix license plate light
Put the first aid kit in the car
Buy gloves (my current cotton gloves still let the coldness of the steering wheel through - and it's not even below freezing yet)
Buy boots to wear while digging out the car
Research driving courses for driving in the snow
Change driver's license so that when I inevitably get pulled over or pulled out of a ditch, I don't also get a ticket for that
Consider upping car insurance coverage for dangerous driving conditions

Winter drivers, what am I forgetting? I already keep a blanket in the car at all times and snacks upon my person.


  1. I would just suggest to keep the first aid kit and the blanket inside the car and not in the trunk, as if you're stuck in the snow you might not be able to access the trunk. I would also add a bottle of water with the snacks you already have. Just in case ;-)

  2. #1 for us is install winter tires. Most people forget that 'all-seasons' are for all the seasons that California gets, and the rubber turns hard in freezing weather. Winter tires stay soft and sticky to grip the ice.

    Our insurance gives us a discount of 5% annually for using them.

  3. We moved to a real winter climate a few years ago. I truly hate driving in it but these are all great tips. I also put snacks and water in the car.

  4. Yikes! Life is much better with a garage or covered parking... but I think you have everything. The good part is, you really shouldn't have to use most of that unless something goes wrong. I personally only had one incident where I went off the road a little, and some random person came by with a tow-rope and a pick up and helped me out.

    I'm interested on what you find out about driving in the snow courses. I never have heard of anyone taking one, but seems like a good idea. Good luck!

  5. I agree about keeping the blanket/first aid kit in the back seat rather than the trunk. It sounds like you've covered almost everything. A few things I thought of just now, though:

    Never let your gas level get too low. If you get stuck in the snow, it sometimes takes a while to get out, and if you get stranded somewhere, you want to be able to run the heat occasionally.

    If you can, find out where you would be able to attach a tow-line to your vehicle without damaging it. I got stuck in my sister's driveway in college, and her neighbor guy offered to tow the car out with his truck, but we weren't sure how to hook it up. We were able to dig out, but if you get stuck near a friendly truck-driving person, it might help to know.

    Last thing- it looks silly, but if you stand your wipers up when the temperature is below freezing, they won't freeze to the windshield and get damaged when you try to detach them. If you give yourself long enough to defrost, it won't matter, but if you *ahem* leave at the last minute and just try to scrape off a minimum of ice...when you run them, they will be damaged.

    I do NOT miss driving in that stuff, good luck this winter!

  6. Thanks for all your comments so far! Keep them coming!

    For everyone who's recommending water...won't it just freeze? How will it be helpful?

    @stackingpennies and insomniaclabrat: it is actually illegal here for anyone but a tow truck operator to pull you out of a ditch, and the non-tow-truck-tower AND the towee can get a ticket. Is that not insane?

    Also, I sure hope those classes are a real thing. I think they should be, but I actually don't know that they are.

  7. If you get stuck in the snow, make sure to dig out the area around your exhaust pipe, so the exhaust has somewhere to go while you run your heater. Carbon monoxide is no good.

  8. Rather timely - my town just had their first big snowstorm today! And I had to drive to the airport, too, when most days I don't drive at all.

    You've got a pretty good list here! I got a lock deicer in my christmas stocking last year, but I never had to use it. Make sure you get the ice scraper with a brush on the end of it and is nice and long so that you can reach the whole car, rather than a little tiny one. My boyfriend also likes to do a good wash and wax on his car before the winter because the salt, sand, and other chemicals used on roads can be harsh.

    If you plan to be doing a lot of driving in the winter and you're in an area with a lot of snow, winter tires can really help a lot with traction. If your tires are old, even if you don't plan on getting winter tires, you might want to replace them now. But my best driving in the snow tip is just to be patient and careful and not get cocky. Leave lots of extra room between cars and try to use the brake pedal as little as possible.

  9. Legal or not, it has happened to me! is that state law? I also doubt it is an widely enforced law - except maybe in MSP.

    Generally in the snow, you just go slower and drive with extra caution. Brake more gently and sooner. And most of the time, the roads are mostly clear of snow. anti-lock brakes help - most cars have those. There might be classes, but at the very least, I bet there is instructional stuff on the internet.

  10. Had frost on the car windows this morning for the first time! Good list - I see a few things I haven't thought about yet. Thanks!

  11. Hmm, researching about courses for driving on the snow can help you survive the ride during winters. Driving during the wintertime is more difficult, and it pays to know how to navigate those slippery roads.


Thanks for commenting!